A new species of dinosaur, Rukwatitan bisepultus, has been identified in Tanzania, marking one of the few titanosaurus finds on the African continent.
The fossil remains, identified by Ohio University paleontologists, represent a species of sauropod dinosaur that lived 100 million years ago and weighed as much as several elephants, according to Phys.org. The dinosaur is one of the few titanosaurus specimens uncovered in Africa as most have been discovered in South America. The scientists first observed fossils of the titianosaur embedded in a cliff wall in the Rukwa Rift Basin, located in southwestern Tanzania.
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The scientific team was able to unearth vertebrae, ribs, limbs and pelvic bones from the dinosaur during two field seasons, with the assistance of coal miners and other professional excavators. The remains were subjected to CT scans, which revealed them to be a distinct and unique species of dinosaur. Eric Gorscak, a doctoral student in biological sciences at Ohio University, highlighted the importance of the Tanzanian find.
“Using both traditional and new computational approaches, we were able to place the new species within the family tree of sauropod dinosaurs and determine both its uniqueness as a species and to delineate others species with which it is most closely related.”
The dinosaur lived nearly 100 million years ago, during the middle of the Cretaceous Period. As CBS News points out, Rukwatitan was not among the largest of titanosaurians, though its front legs were nearly six feet long. The titanosaurs were sauropods, a group of dinosaurs with characteristic long necks.
As The Inquisitr recently reported, a dinosaur recently discovered in Argentina ranks as the largest animal ever to walk to Earth. Measuring 130 feet long and 65 feet tall, the dinosaur weighed nearly 170,000 pounds, the equivalent of 14 elephants combined.
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The study describing the discovery was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology on Monday. The fossils of only four other titanosauran dinosaurs have been discovered in Africa while in South America, over 30 have been found. While there are similarities between the recently discovered titanosaurus and Malawisaurus dixeyi, which was previously uncovered in Malawi, researchers contend that Rukwatitan was its own distinct species.
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[Image via CBS News]